Announcing TypeScript 3.6

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Daniel

Today we’re happy to announce the availability of TypeScript 3.6!

For those unfamiliar, TypeScript is a language that builds on JavaScript by adding optional static types. These types can be checked by the TypeScript compiler to catch common errors in your programs (like misspelling properties and calling functions the wrong way). Tools like the TypeScript compiler and Babel can then be used to transform TypeScript code that uses all the latest and greatest standard features to standards-compliant ECMAScript code that will work on any browser or runtime (even much older ones that support ES3 or ES5).

TypeScript goes beyond just type-checking and new ECMAScript features though. Editor tooling is considered a first-class citizen and is an integral part of the TypeScript project, powering things like code completions, refactorings, and quick fixes in a series of different editors. In fact, if you’ve already edited JavaScript files in Visual Studio or Visual Studio Code, that experience is actually provided by TypeScript, so you might’ve already been using TypeScript without knowing it!

To learn more, you can check out the TypeScript website. But to just get started, you can get it through NuGet, or use npm with the following command:

npm install -g typescript

You can also get editor support by

Support for other editors will likely be rolling in in the near future.

Let’s explore what’s in 3.6!

Stricter Generators

TypeScript 3.6 introduces stricter checking for iterators and generator functions. In earlier versions, users of generators had no way to differentiate whether a value was yielded or returned from a generator.

function* foo() {
    if (Math.random() < 0.5) yield 100;
    return "Finished!"
}

let iter = foo();
let curr = iter.next();
if (curr.done) {
    // TypeScript 3.5 and prior thought this was a 'string | number'.
    // It should know it's 'string' since 'done' was 'true'!
    curr.value
}

Additionally, generators just assumed the type of yield was always any.

function* bar() {
    let x: { hello(): void } = yield;
    x.hello();
}

let iter = bar();
iter.next();
iter.next(123); // oops! runtime error!

In TypeScript 3.6, the checker now knows that the correct type for curr.value should be string in our first example, and will correctly error on our call to next() in our last example. This is thanks to some changes in the Iterator and IteratorResult type declarations to include a few new type parameters, and to a new type that TypeScript uses to represent generators called the Generator type.

The Iterator type now allows users to specify the yielded type, the returned type, and the type that next can accept.

interface Iterator<T, TReturn = any, TNext = undefined> {
    // Takes either 0 or 1 arguments - doesn't accept 'undefined'
    next(...args: [] | [TNext]): IteratorResult<T, TReturn>;
    return?(value?: TReturn): IteratorResult<T, TReturn>;
    throw?(e?: any): IteratorResult<T, TReturn>;
}

Building on that work, the new Generator type is an Iterator that always has both the return and throw methods present, and is also iterable.

interface Generator<T = unknown, TReturn = any, TNext = unknown>
        extends Iterator<T, TReturn, TNext> {
    next(...args: [] | [TNext]): IteratorResult<T, TReturn>;
    return(value: TReturn): IteratorResult<T, TReturn>;
    throw(e: any): IteratorResult<T, TReturn>;
    [Symbol.iterator](): Generator<T, TReturn, TNext>;
}

To allow differentiation between returned values and yielded values, TypeScript 3.6 converts the IteratorResult type to a discriminated union type:

type IteratorResult<T, TReturn = any> = IteratorYieldResult<T> | IteratorReturnResult<TReturn>;

interface IteratorYieldResult<TYield> {
    done?: false;
    value: TYield;
}

interface IteratorReturnResult<TReturn> {
    done: true;
    value: TReturn;
}

In short, what this means is that you’ll be able to appropriately narrow down values from iterators when dealing with them directly.

To correctly represent the types that can be passed in to a generator from calls to next(), TypeScript 3.6 also infers certain uses of yield within the body of a generator function.

function* foo() {
    let x: string = yield;
    console.log(x.toUpperCase());
}

let x = foo();
x.next(); // first call to 'next' is always ignored
x.next(42); // error! 'number' is not assignable to 'string'

If you’d prefer to be explicit, you can also enforce the type of values that can be returned, yielded, and evaluated from yield expressions using an explicit return type. Below, next() can only be called with booleans, and depending on the value of done, value is either a string or a number.

/**
 * - yields numbers
 * - returns strings
 * - can be passed in booleans
 */
function* counter(): Generator<number, string, boolean> {
    let i = 0;
    while (true) {
        if (yield i++) {
            break;
        }
    }
    return "done!";
}

var iter = counter();
var curr = iter.next()
while (!curr.done) {
    console.log(curr.value);
    curr = iter.next(curr.value === 5)
}
console.log(curr.value.toUpperCase());

// prints:
//
// 0
// 1
// 2
// 3
// 4
// 5
// DONE!

For more details on the change, see the pull request here.

More Accurate Array Spread

In pre-ES2015 targets, the most faithful emit for constructs like for/of loops and array spreads can be a bit heavy. For this reason, TypeScript uses a simpler emit by default that only supports array types, and supports iterating on other types using the --downlevelIteration flag. Under this flag, the emitted code is more accurate, but is much larger.

--downlevelIteration being off by default works well since, by-and-large, most users targeting ES5 only plan to use iterative constructs with arrays. However, our emit that only supported arrays still had some observable differences in some edge cases.

For example, the following example

[...Array(5)]

is equivalent to the following array.

[undefined, undefined, undefined, undefined, undefined]

However, TypeScript would instead transform the original code into this code:

Array(5).slice();

This is slightly different. Array(5) produces an array with a length of 5, but with no defined property slots!

1 in [undefined, undefined, undefined] // true
1 in Array(3) // false

And when TypeScript calls slice(), it also creates an array with indices that haven’t been set.

This might seem a bit of an esoteric difference, but it turns out many users were running into this undesirable behavior. Instead of using slice() and built-ins, TypeScript 3.6 introduces a new __spreadArrays helper to accurately model what happens in ECMAScript 2015 in older targets outside of --downlevelIteration. __spreadArrays is also available in tslib (which is worth checking out if you’re looking for smaller bundle sizes).

For more information, see the relevant pull request.

Improved UX Around Promises

Promises are one of the most common ways to work with asynchronous data nowadays. Unfortunately, using a Promise-oriented API can often be confusing for users. TypeScript 3.6 introduces some improvements for when Promises are mis-handled.

For example, it’s often very common to forget to .then() or await the contents of a Promise before passing it to another function. TypeScript’s error messages are now specialized, and inform the user that perhaps they should consider using the await keyword.

interface User {
    name: string;
    age: number;
    location: string;
}

declare function getUserData(): Promise<User>;
declare function displayUser(user: User): void;

async function f() {
    displayUser(getUserData());
//              ~~~~~~~~~~~~~
// Argument of type 'Promise<User>' is not assignable to parameter of type 'User'.
//   ...
// Did you forget to use 'await'?
}

It’s also common to try to access a method before await-ing or .then()-ing a Promise. This is another example, among many others, where we’re able to do better.

async function getCuteAnimals() {
    fetch("https://reddit.com/r/aww.json")
        .json()
    //   ~~~~
    // Property 'json' does not exist on type 'Promise<Response>'.
    //
    // Did you forget to use 'await'?
}

The intent is that even if a user is not aware of await, at the very least, these messages provide some more context on where to go from here.

In the same vein of discoverability and making your life easier – apart from better error messages on Promises, we now also provide quick fixes in some cases as well.

Quick fixes being applied to add missing 'await' keywords.

For more details, see the originating issue, as well as the pull requests that link back to it.

Better Unicode Support for Identifiers

TypeScript 3.6 contains better support for Unicode characters in identifiers when emitting to ES2015 and later targets.

const 𝓱𝓮𝓵𝓵𝓸 = "world"; // previously disallowed, now allowed in '--target es2015'

import.meta Support in SystemJS

TypeScript 3.6 supports transforming import.meta to context.meta when your module target is set to system.

// This module:

console.log(import.meta.url)

// gets turned into the following:

System.register([], function (exports, context) {
  return {
    setters: [],
    execute: function () {
      console.log(context.meta.url);
    }
  };
});

get and set Accessors Are Allowed in Ambient Contexts

In previous versions of TypeScript, the language didn’t allow get and set accessors in ambient contexts (like in declare-d classes, or in .d.ts files in general). The rationale was that accessors weren’t distinct from properties as far as writing and reading to these properties; however, because ECMAScript’s class fields proposal may have differing behavior from in existing versions of TypeScript, we realized we needed a way to communicate this different behavior to provide appropriate errors in subclasses.

As a result, users can write getters and setters in ambient contexts in TypeScript 3.6.

declare class Foo {
    // Allowed in 3.6+.
    get x(): number;
    set x(val: number): void;
}

In TypeScript 3.7, the compiler itself will take advantage of this feature so that generated .d.ts files will also emit get/set accessors.

Ambient Classes and Functions Can Merge

In previous versions of TypeScript, it was an error to merge classes and functions under any circumstances. Now, ambient classes and functions (classes/functions with the declare modifier, or in .d.ts files) can merge. This means that now you can write the following:

export declare function Point2D(x: number, y: number): Point2D;
export declare class Point2D {
    x: number;
    y: number;
    constructor(x: number, y: number);
}

instead of needing to use

export interface Point2D {
    x: number;
    y: number;
}
export declare var Point2D: {
    (x: number, y: number): Point2D;
    new (x: number, y: number): Point2D;
}

One advantage of this is that the callable constructor pattern can be easily expressed while also allowing namespaces to merge with these declarations (since var declarations can’t merge with namespaces).

In TypeScript 3.7, the compiler will take advantage of this feature so that .d.ts files generated from .js files can appropriately capture both the callability and constructability of a class-like function.

For more details, see the original PR on GitHub.

APIs to Support --build and --incremental

TypeScript 3.0 introduced support for referencing other projects and building them incrementally using the --build flag. Additionally, TypeScript 3.4 introduced the --incremental flag for saving information about previous compilations to only rebuild certain files. These flags were incredibly useful for structuring projects more flexibly and speeding builds up. Unfortunately, using these flags didn’t work with 3rd party build tools like Gulp and Webpack. TypeScript 3.6 now exposes two sets of APIs to operate on project references and incremental program building.

For creating --incremental builds, users can leverage the createIncrementalProgram and createIncrementalCompilerHost APIs. Users can also re-hydrate old program instances from .tsbuildinfo files generated by this API using the newly exposed readBuilderProgram function, which is only meant to be used as for creating new programs (i.e. you can’t modify the returned instance – it’s only meant to be used for the oldProgram parameter in other create*Program functions).

For leveraging project references, a new createSolutionBuilder function has been exposed, which returns an instance of the new type SolutionBuilder.

For more details on these APIs, you can see the original pull request.

New TypeScript Playground

The TypeScript playground has received a much-needed refresh with handy new functionality! The new playground is largely a fork of Artem Tyurin‘s TypeScript playground which community members have been using more and more. We owe Artem a big thanks for helping out here!

The new playground now supports many new options including:

  • The target option (allowing users to switch out of es5 to es3, es2015, esnext, etc.)
  • All the strictness flags (including just strict)
  • Support for plain JavaScript files (using allowJS and optionally checkJs)

These options also persist when sharing links to playground samples, allowing users to more reliably share examples without having to tell the recipient “oh, don’t forget to turn on the noImplicitAny option!”.

In the near future, we’re going to be refreshing the playground samples, adding JSX support, and polishing automatic type acquisition, meaning that you’ll be able to see the same experience on the playground as you’d get in your personal editor.

As we improve the playground and the website, we welcome feedback and pull requests on GitHub!

Semicolon-Aware Code Edits

Editors like Visual Studio and Visual Studio Code can automatically apply quick fixes, refactorings, and other transformations like automatically importing values from other modules. These transformations are powered by TypeScript, and older versions of TypeScript unconditionally added semicolons to the end of every statement; unfortunately, this disagreed with many users’ style guidelines, and many users were displeased with the editor inserting semicolons.

TypeScript is now smart enough to detect whether your file uses semicolons when applying these sorts of edits. If your file generally lacks semicolons, TypeScript won’t add one.

For more details, see the corresponding pull request.

Smarter Auto-Imports

JavaScript has a lot of different module syntaxes or conventions: the one in the ECMAScript standard, the one Node already supports (CommonJS), AMD, System.js, and more! For the most part, TypeScript would default to auto-importing using ECMAScript module syntax, which was often inappropriate in certain TypeScript projects with different compiler settings, or in Node projects with plain JavaScript and require calls.

TypeScript 3.6 is now a bit smarter about looking at your existing imports before deciding on how to auto-import other modules. You can see more details in the original pull request here.

Breaking Changes

Class Members Named "constructor" Are Now Constructors

As per the ECMAScript specification, class declarations with methods named constructor are now constructor functions, regardless of whether they are declared using identifier names, or string names.

class C {
    "constructor"() {
        console.log("I am the constructor now.");
    }
}

A notable exception, and the workaround to this break, is using a computed property whose name evaluates to "constructor".

class D {
    ["constructor"]() {
        console.log("I'm not a constructor - just a plain method!");
    }
}

DOM Updates

Many declarations have been removed or changed within lib.dom.d.ts. This includes (but isn’t limited to) the following:

  • The global window is no longer defined as type Window – instead, it is defined as type Window & typeof globalThis. In some cases, it may be better to refer to its type as typeof window.
  • GlobalFetch is gone. Instead, use WindowOrWorkerGlobalScope
  • Certain non-standard properties on Navigator are gone.
  • The experimental-webgl context is gone. Instead, use webgl or webgl2.

If you believe a change has been made in error, please file an issue!

JSDoc Comments No Longer Merge

In JavaScript files, TypeScript will only consult immediately preceding JSDoc comments to figure out declared types.

/**
 * @param {string} arg
 */
/**
 * oh, hi, were you trying to type something?
 */
function whoWritesFunctionsLikeThis(arg) {
    // 'arg' has type 'any'
}

Keywords Cannot Contain Escape Sequences

Previously keywords were allowed to contain escape sequences. TypeScript 3.6 disallows them.

while (true) {
    \u0063ontinue;
//  ~~~~~~~~~~~~~
//  error! Keywords cannot contain escape characters.
}

What’s Next?

To get an idea of what the team will be working on, check out the 6-month roadmap for July to December of this year.

As always, we hope that this release of TypeScript makes coding a better experience and makes you happier. If you have any suggestions or run into any problems, we’re always interested so feel free to open an issue on GitHub.

Happy Hacking!

– Daniel Rosenwasser and the TypeScript Team

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Daniel Rosenwasser

Program Manager, TypeScript

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